Identity Theft Feed

Here are 12 scam avoidance tips, six for catastrophe victims and six for those who want to help. Tropical Storm Beta hanging off the Texas Gulf Coast Monday, Sept. 21, afternoon. Image courtesy the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC). The Atlantic hurricane season has already made the record books. Fires are devastating vast areas of the Western United States. Unusual weather events like the Midwestern derecho have wrecked homes and businesses. That means millions of folks are looking for help. There are many sources of assistance, from charitable organizations to help people deal with a... Read more →


More than 160 million people have received the COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP) that was approved in late March. Still, says the Internal Revenue Service, that's not everyone who's eligible for the relief money. In fact, the tax agency says around nine million Americans still are due the stimulus. But to get it this year, they need to contact the IRS. And the IRS will be sending them a special letter later this month to encourage them to file for the relief payment, preferably by Oct. 15. Don't have to file, but qualify for COVID cash: These nine-or-so million folks... Read more →


If tax it the time of coronavirus taught us anything, it's that tax professionals are indispensable. On the heels of getting a handle on the 2017 tax reform changes, tax pros this filing season were handed even more jobs. They helped people understand COVID-19 economic relief payments, what tax tasks were delayed until when and the Paycheck Protection Program. And now, just days after Tax Day 2020 finally came and went, another coronavirus stimulus package, no doubt with more tax implications, is in the works. The bottom line is that tax help from a reputable tax pro is critical, in... Read more →


You're following all the recommended pandemic precautions. You stay home. You have your groceries and meals delivered. If you must go out, it's for drive-through or curbside pickup of necessary items. You always wear a mask when you leave your home. But you still might not be safe from the latest iteration of the coronavirus outbreak. This time, though, it's not medical, but financial. Scammers are coming to us via emails and phone calls, using a variety of tricks to get their hands on our COVID-19 economic impact payments (EIPs) and other funds. The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation (CI)... Read more →


Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor a global pandemic stays protectively-masked U.S. Postal Service carriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. The COVID-19 economic relief payment checks really are in the mail. That means a whole new slew of coronavirus scams also are showing up via phone calls, as well as in people's mail boxes, both electronic and real-life curbside ones. Since millions of actual paper COVID-19 relief checks are being snail mailed, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is involved in the scam-fighting efforts. These law enforcement officers are joining other federal... Read more →


The Treasury Department says it's on schedule to get coronavirus economic recovery payments to folks' bank accounts next week. There's even better news for those who want to change the payment's delivery method from snail mail to direct deposit. Politico's Morning Tax newsletter reports that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Capitol Hill lawmakers that the online tool that could speed up delivery of the COVID-19 money also will up and running next week. That's the mechanism that, as I noted in yesterdays' post, whereby folks who've previously received refunds as paper checks sent via the U.S. Postal Service or didn't... Read more →


The specifics on how and when the Internal Revenue Service will issue the payments created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act have been changing. First, older filers were going to have to file a special return form to get the money. Now, the Treasury Department says the IRS will use eligible recipients' Social Security information and directly deposit them without requiring any additional action. As for when that will happen, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said yesterday that the delivery timetable has been accelerated. The IRS will start getting the money out to some next week. However,... Read more →


We definitely are no longer living in normal tax or other times. (Images from Young Frankenstein) April has always been a serious month for taxpayers. April 15 has been Tax Day for 65 years and since most of the millions of at-the-deadline filers tend to owe Uncle Sam, they're not very happy. This year, though, there is an even more solemn reason for no April fooling around. Things, tax and otherwise, have gotten very serious as the United States and the world fight the deadly coronavirus pandemic. On the tax front, new laws have been written and old ones adjusted... Read more →


Pixabay/CDC Coronavirus relief checks still are weeks away from arriving in our bank accounts or snail mail boxes, but crooks already are trying to trick us out of the money. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says its ScamTracker already has detected crooks impersonating as government officials and calling about the money authorized under the just-enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. New hooks, old scams: COVID-19 is a new bait, but the scam scenarios are out of the standard con artist playbook. You get an email or see an online post about a special COVID-19 government grant. All... Read more →


Millions of taxpayers finally got their tax statements this week and promptly filed their returns. Millions more of us are still in the data gathering stage — Hey, it's not my fault! One of my 1099s still isn't here. — and will file soon. But all of us still are potential tax identity theft targets. Yes, even early filers. Crooks know these taxpayers generally are expecting refunds, so they tailor their deceptive approaches accordingly. Look out for IRS pretenders reaching out to you to say there's a problem with your filing. It can only be fixed, say these scammers who... Read more →


We are heading into the heart of tax filing season. That means it's also prime tax identity theft time. As part of its continuing efforts to fight cyber tax crime, the Internal Revenue Service this week launched a new web page, Identity Theft Central. Among the areas this new IRS.gov section covers is what to do if you're a victim of tax identity theft. The one that caught my eye was getting a copy of a fraudulent return that was filed in your name. I know that my journalistic tendencies make me nosy in the first place. But if I... Read more →


The second filing season under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is about to start. This one will be easier, right? Right? Maybe. At least this year, we and the Internal Revenue Service aren't dealing with the longest federal government shutdown in history. Plus, folks got a good look with their filings last year at how the massive Republican tax reform law affects them, although some areas are still a bit fuzzy. And of course, everyone adjusted their payroll withholding so there won't be a replay of 2019's reduced/no-tax-refund drama. Yeah, I'm rolling my eyes at that statement, too.... Read more →


IRS building by David Boeke via Flickr CC A lot of former Internal Revenue Service employees take the lessons they learned on that job and create second careers as tax advisers and preparers. That's a nice professional segue. Going from being part of the U.S. tax collection machine to helping folks pay Uncle Sam as little as legally possible. But it needs to be done after IRS employees leave their government job. One current IRS staffer in the agency's Andover, Massachusetts, service center was, to borrow a tax term, double dipping. Worse, federal prosecutors say she filed almost 600 false... Read more →


Taxpayers got their first experience with new filing forms with last year's 2018 returns. There are more changes to the 1040 for 2019 taxes, too, but the revisions actually could be helpful. Tax season is about to start in a less than two weeks. Jan. 27, in case you forgot. Many of us are already working on our 2019 returns, either by working with a tax preparer or filling out our forms on our own. Doing taxes has never been a fun job for most folks. But filing under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has made that job... Read more →


The 2020 filing season starts on Jan. 27 and millions of taxpayers already are ready to send their 1040s to the Internal Revenue Service on that day. Most of these folks are expecting refunds. But that's just one reason to file your taxes early. Here are six reasons to finish up your Form 1040 and get it to the IRS ASAP. 1. To get your refund sooner. Yes, a tax refund is always the top reason to file your taxes as early as you can. I could go on (and on and on) about how it's better to adjust your... Read more →


The tax world is atwitter, literally on social media and figuratively for those not addicted to the sociability component of their electronic devices, now that the Internal Revenue Service is already accepting business tax returns and will start taking 2019 tax year 1040 forms from individuals on Jan. 27. Everyone, from taxpayers to income payers to tax professionals are already at work, with most at this point gathering data in preparation for the actual filings. For tax professionals, that includes a written security plan to safeguard all the sensitive tax and financial information they handle for their clients. Tax data... Read more →


Congress played Santa this week, averting a government shutdown and approving a wide variety of anticipated tax breaks. Merry Christmas U.S. taxpayers. H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, is now law. In a surprise move earlier this month, House and Senate negotiators cobbled together a massive bill that not only, as the name indicates, assures that the federal government stays open, but which also included some long-awaited (at least by those who will benefit) expired tax provisions. In addition, lawmakers corrected — and by corrected, I mean repealed — some obvious — and by obvious, I mean universally... Read more →


Updated Friday, Dec. 6, 2019 Source: PhotoMIX Ltd via Pexels Yes, I know Cyber Monday has come and gone. I also realize that a lot of folks finished up their holiday shopping earlier this week. But there always are those of us who put off picking up that perfect present until the last minute. Or, as Dec. 25 nears, we just happen to see something that our spouse, parents, children or best fiend would absolutely love. So, since we seem to be perpetually logged in, we click on it and we're done. Unless our clicking leads to identity theft. Beyond... Read more →


Gift cards are great presents for family and friends. There's no worrying about sizes or misinterpreted wish list hints. Gift cards, however, are not an option to pay your taxes. That fact hasn't stopped con artists. The Internal Revenue Service says tax scams involving the prepaid pieces of plastic presents are on the rise. The tax agency says it has received many reports of taxpayers being asked to pay a fake tax bill through the purchase of gift cards. Breaking down the con: The tax scammers tend to follow the same basic script, tweaking it as needed when marks get... Read more →


How many email and snail mail charity solicitations have you received in the last couple of weeks? In our real and virtual mailboxes, it's already nearing 100. Yes, the end-of-year donation season is shifting into high gear. Unfortunately, that also means that criminals will be trying to take advantage of people's generous tendencies. Such nefarious attempts are why this week the Internal Revenue Service is participating in the second annual International Charity Fraud Awareness Week (ICFAW). ICFAW is led by a coalition of over 40 charities, regulators, law enforcers, representative bodies and other not-for-profit stakeholders. Awareness is key to stopping... Read more →